Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Next Dimension -- Loaded Tesseract Review

Hello There Students of Shred,
If you are a geek like me then you have definitely heard the word "Tesseract" at some point in your life. A Tesseract is an eight sided cube that exists in the fourth dimension. To visualize it, think of how a square turns into a cube when it goes from 2D to 3D, now imagine a cube turning into a Tesseract as it goes from 3D to 4D (ok, you probably can't imagine that, but I don't that know anyone really can). That's basically a Tesseract in a nutshell. Or alternatively, and just as geeky,  the Tesseract is the blue magical cube in the Avengers movie. 

Here in the real world of only 3 visual dimensions another Tesseract has emerged from woodwork; the Loaded Tesseract. This version of the Tesseract was essentially designed to be a quiver killer. Loaded's website says that the Tesseract is ready to thrash everything; mountains, slides, ollies, manuals, you name it. While a lot of longboarders have simply called it a smaller version of the fabled Chubby Unicorn. To help clarify what the Tesseract really is Loaded was nice enough to send me one of these extra dimensional boards so that I could give you some of my earthly thoughts on this deck.  

However, before we get too far into how this board handles on the pavement let's talk get into it's technical specifications. The Tesseract is a symmetrical topmount that, as I mentioned, was designed to do a little bit of everything. It sports wheel flares, w concave, rocker, kicktails, wheelbase options, and a composite construction. 
Let's also take a second to talk about the construction of the Tesseract. Well, just by looking at it you can make the pretty safe assumption that there is something other than pressed maple holding this deck together. The Tesseract rocks a composite construction of  two vertically laminated bamboo cores sandwiched between fiberglass skins with a bottom layer of cork. The cork being something unique to this deck, at least as far as I am aware. One thing that was immediately apparent to me when I opened the Tesseract was how light it is. That composite construction makes the board way lighter than its size or thickness would suggest. 

Alright, I think it is time to get down to the nitty gritty review....

A commute can mean a lot of different things. You know what they say, "different strokes for different folks." In light of this I am going to try something new and sub-divide this group. 

City/Campus Commuting
Any good campus or city crusher needs to be agile and light on its feet (or wheels). The Tesseract is a little deceptive, coming in at a full 39 inches, but that's because it is sporting such large kicks on either side. A longboard actually gets most of its agility from the length of its wheelbase and not the size of the deck. Which means that with only a 24.5 or 26 inch wheelbase the Tesseract a great board for getting around town. This relatively small wheelbase makes the board very nimble and responsive when you are trying to bust quick slides to slow down or just look steezy in front of pedestrians. In addition, quick little slides are made easy with the wheel flares on the deck which really lock your feet in (but we'll talk more about that later). 
Let's be real, no city or campus commute is complete with the occasional obstacle to get in your way. Being nice and responsive is a great way to deal with a lot of ride interferences but what happens when you see an unexpected rock or curb? The simple answer is to ollie over it! I was very surprised to discover that the tails on the Tesseract are capable of popping a nice full size ollie. I have really enjoyed incorporating ollies into my daily commute to work.    

Long Distance Commuting
The second kind of skating that comes to mind when I think of commuting is the long distance push. This style of skating is oftentimes enjoyed by a variety of people, however, anyone who has pushed for more than a few miles knows how much it can sometimes suck.
One of, if not the, most important trait desired for pushing long distances is a nice low ride. The Tesseract isn't the best option for this style of skating (nor are many topmounts). Despite the rockered platform, this board just doesn't ride low enough to push for miles and miles. However, I don't think that anyone would argue that point as the Tesseract wasn't designed to be a long distance pusher. If you are casually cruising around town the Tesseract should be plenty low for you to feel comfortable with.

In a word where longboarding has become dominated by freeride this style of skating has all but fallen to the wayside in some groups. Freestyle skating is all about expression through your skating and the Tesseract really gives its rider a lot of options to do so. 
The large 7.25 inch double kick tails and symmetrical platform beg to be flipped every which way. If you are riding a Tesseract and not freestyling then you are blowing it. Because the tails are so large and wide you get a ton of leverage and if you factor in the fact that the Tesseract is super light you end up with a freestyle monster. I was actually over-rotating all of my normal tricks before I realized how easy this deck was to flip around. 
I always get a little worried about my foot placement on boards with complex concave patterns, like the Tesseract, when I am trying to hit tricks. Mostly because landing the wrong way on super steep w concave or gnarly wheel flares can really make your feet hurt after a while. However, whether you are looking to pop a simple shove-it or bigspin off a giant ledge the Tesseract feels very comfortable under your feet. Which is the result of the subtleties of the concave the Tesseract was designed with. Despite feeling so comfortable the Tesseract is actually equipped with wheel flares that are quite steep on the edges and with fat, wide, and progressive w concave. I will talk more extensively about the concave of the board in the freeride section of the review.  

If you stalk the longboarding interwebs as much as I do (for your sake I hope you don't. No one should be online as much as I am.) then you will probably have noticed a bunch of Loaded riders have been taking the Tesseract to races. Well, let me just say, there is certainly a method to their madness. I think that the general picture in everyone's head of a nice downhill board is something lengthy and about 20 plies thick. While the Tesseract breaks this mold just swap it to the wider wheelbase and it can certainly still hang with the fatter boards on the mountain. 
The concave on the Tesseract provides excellent board feel and a comfortable, functional standing platform. The w concave on the Tesseract is progressive, in that it is more pronounced in the center of the board and sort of spreads out closer to the bolts, making it feel more like radial concave on the bolts. This allows any tucking to feel a little more natural because you don't have choose a side of the w concave to put your foot on. Using the wheel flares and the varying levels of w concave as reference points is crucial for board feel at speed.  Once you have taken the time to get to know your Tesseract you can tell where your feet are on the board without ever having to look down. In addition that rockered platform lowers your ride just a little bit. While about 1/3 of an inch lower may not seem like much, every subtlety of a board is amplified at speed, and I feel like the rocker plays a significant role in the downhill performance this deck.
Let's talk flexiness for a minute. I would say one thing people should know about this deck is that there is actually a tiny bit of flex to it. The reason I mention it is that I know that any amount of flex tends to scare certain people who like to go fast. However, to be fair, when I say a tiny amount, I mean you pretty much have to be looking for it to feel it because it is almost non-existent. On top of that the Tesseract was designed with that teeny bit of flex to dampen vibrations. To Loaded's credit the deck really does remain a smooth and stable ride when going fast.

One of the complaints I have already heard people lodging against the Tesseract is about its seemingly small amount of concave. While I agree that this board seems to have less concave to it than some competitors on the market I feel like it adheres to the "less is more" train of thought. 

From what I can gather, based on hours of riding time, the Tesseract utilizes a synergistic approach to locking your feet in place. This isn't the type of deck that only gives you an inch of concave and says "good luck". No, no, instead the Tesseract has its rocker, w concave, and wheel flares work together harmoniously to get you feeling really secure not only while sliding but sliding at speed. The rocker cradles the outer edges of your feet (the pinky toe side) and lowers you a little bit, while the progressive w concave rests under the arches of your feet to give you something to grip on to with your big toes and heels, and finally the wheel flares use their increasingly steep grade to lock your feet in place with sliding. It is honestly a thing of beauty. 

These features all work together to help you slide from the platform and hit really nice long standies. However, half the fun of freeride is getting creative! Que the kick tails. The tails on the Tesseract actually sport a little bit of their own concave which is great for hitting all sorts of slides from the tail. In addition to blunt slides, because you are so locked in, you can really get creative with rotational slides like 360 slides. The Tesseract is not just fun for getting sideways but for getting wild. It is really a board I can comfortably push my freeride limits on. 

I was very skeptical that a cork finish on the bottom layer of the board would hold up to a beating. However, I have to admit that I am pretty impressed. When I first saw the cork I thought that the guys over Loaded must have lost their minds! However, it has worn very slowly, and only on the tips of the tails of my deck and that is with me constantly grinding down on the tails with ollies and botched manuals. I have been thrashing on this board pretty hard and the Tesseract seems to have taken it all in stride.

It can't all be good, and because nothing is perfect, the Tesseract does have some downsides.  
The biggest issues I ran into was with wheel bite. A nice freestyle friendly setup, running 65mm wheels, seems to be no problem. However, If you want to run  anything 70mm or larger on this board, especially with lower degree baseplates, then I recommend grabbing a small riser to slap on there. Of course, don't forget that your bushings are going to make a world of difference too. Tighter bushing/washer setups will clear up a lot of the wheel bite issues.  
Oh, and the rough cork finish on the bottom makes it hard to put stickers on it, haha.
The Bottom Line
Would I recommend the Loaded Tesseract to a Friend?
I can say without a doubt that I would. I don't know if I would go so far as to say that the Tesseract is a complete quiver killer, but it is most definitely super duper versatile. Let me put it this way, if I were to design a board to do everything, my shape would come out pretty darn similar to the Tesseract. On top of the Tesseract's "do it all attitude" the deck seems to really hold up to a beating and show little wear. I honestly think that pretty much anyone who looks into this deck will get a lot of life and love out of it. 

Thanks for Reading!
Any Questions, Comments, Concerns, Letters, Stickers, Recipes, Hatemail?
Send them my way!
Stay Awesome,

My Current Favorite Setup:
-Surf-Rodz 176mm RKP 45* or Caliber 44*
-Orangatang FatFree 86a
-Loaded Bearings
-Riptide WFB Bushings